Added to television, comics and books, there’s recently a new love that’s come into my life.
And, surprising myself most of all, this love is hockey.
Well, if we’re being technical, I actually fell in love with the Ottawa Senators. It was January 2012, and I was sitting on a couch with my boyfriend, Marc-André, watching the Montreal Canadiens face-off against the Senators.
Marc-André is the biggest sports fan I know. I remember being really confused when I met him and uncovered that he loved and breathed sports; where was his foam finger, jersey and obnoxious attitude? (How short-sighted I was.)
I asked him what it was about sports that called to him. He replied by asking me to watch a baseball game with him. While he was explaining to me the intricacies of a sport I’d only just glanced at and yawned “booooring”, something changed. The tone in which he asked me to take in the silence on the field, and the soft “cluck” the bat made when it connected with the bat, reminded me of the one I used to describe my favorite television shows.
Then the next day, in a stroke of lucky coincidence, I read this article. And suddenly, I got it. The feeling of rooting for *your* team; of preferring certain players to others; of watching the style of their game evolve right in front of your eyes. I got it, and I wanted it.
These thoughts were swirling in my brain when I watched that match between the Habs and the Sens. Then I saw him: #65, Erik Karlsson.
Watch here, between 0:54 and 1:02. He did a similar play the first time I watched him; a defenseman, protecting his goalie, then picking the puck from the opposing team and rushing to the net in less than 10 seconds. I was mesmerized by his speed, agility and defensive abilities.
From that moment on, I was hooked, and started doing what I always do when a new obsession comes along: took it to the Internets.
I found Silver Seven Sens, and everything changed. Here, people were having passionate, informative debates on, yes, last night’s game, but also the players and their hopes and dreams for this team that they loved. Immersing myself in their words just made me more excited to check out the next game, and then the next…
And here we are; I wouldn’t say that I’m a hockey expert, by any means, but I know and love my Pesky Sens with a fiery passion. I never in my entire life thought I would be a sports fan; for 22 years I recoiled at the thought of phys. ed., and I used to mock my entourage for their partisanship of the Habs. But this love is now part of me, and interestingly, a good friend of mine made parallels between it and my love for television:
“You cheering at a hockey game still boggles my mind. But, in the end, it makes sense. In all your geekdom, it’s always been about characters and people for you. Like, with Buffy you’re into Willow and Glory and all the nuances they bring to the screen. And, oddly, team sport is no different. They all play for a team goal, but each player has their own personality that they bring to the game. Sure, some are cliche and archetypal, but that’s really no different than literature. So, when you start hoping your new favorite player doesn’t get injured — Alfie? — it’s no different than hoping Amber Benson (I forget the character’s name) ain’t dead.”
And he’s right; it is always about the people. I look forward to moments between Alfie and Karlsson like I do for those between Kenzi and Bo (well used to, before Karlsson’s injury). I can’t wait to read Amelia’s thoughtful pieces like I can’t wait for Carrie Raisler’s The Vampire Diaries reviews.
With Marc-André’s help, I’ve come to realise that “loving things” isn’t an “either/or” scenario. I may identify as a TV/comic book geek, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t also be a sports fan. It’s such a benign concept, one I thought I’d internalized ages ago, but for some reason, when it came to “sports” and “jocks”, the identities weren’t fluid; they were fixed.
This doesn’t mean that the sports world is perfect; on the contrary, as an activist I recognize that, mostly, the NHL is a money racket headed by rich, white, privileged men who want to exploit us for our love of the game. But when I’m sitting in the stands and my heart’s racing, what I feel the most is kinship; for the people surrounding me physically, for my virtual fan-community and for the boys on the ice.
So yes. I love comic books, novels, TV shows, cooking, feminism, social justice…
And I love the Senators.